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By National CFIDS Foundation Medical Committee© 2012*

*Written permission for reprinting or reposting

From Fall 2012 Forum

Natural killer (NK) cell abnormalities have long been associated with CFIDS/ME. These anomalies have been reported upon since the early days of the disease. More recently however, scientists at Bond University, in Australia, have identified a subset of NK cells that appears to be a rather unique biomarker for CFIDS/ME.

In collaboration with Dr. Daniel Peterson as well as Dr. Nancy Klimas, both well-known CFIDS/ME clinicians in the U.S., Bond University scientists identified CD56bright cells as a unique patient biomarker [1,2]. The CD56bright cells were found to be significantly decreased in patients with CFIDS/ME in both studies.

What is of critical scientific interest here is that CD56bright cells serve as a highly unique biomarker for exposure to ionizing radiation [3]. Furthermore, CD56bright cells are intensely sensitive to radiation effects. According to the authors of this paper, with radiation exposure, CD56bright cells were found to be highly decreased and this subpopulation was identified to be the most radiosensitive subpopulation of NK cells.

There is an old saying, "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck." Certainly this is but one biomarker and the NCF has looked at and documented many others like this one. Perhaps it is time that the CFIDS/ME link to ionizing radiation be seriously considered and acknowledged by the international scientific community.


1. Longitudinal investigation of natural killer cells and cytokines in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis; Brenu EW, van Driel ML, Staines DR, Ashton KJ, Hardcastle SL, Keane J, Tajouri L, Peterson D, Ramos SB, Marshall-Gradisnik SM; J Transl Med. 2012 May 9;10(1):88.

2. Immunological abnormalities as potential biomarkers in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; Brenu EW, van Driel ML, Staines DR, Ashton KJ, Ramos SB, Keane J, Klimas NG, Marshall-Gradisnik SM; J Transl Med. 2011 May 28;9:81.

3. Radiosensitivity of CD3-CD8+CD56+ NK cells; Vokurkova D, Vavrova J, Sinkora J, Stoklasova A, Blaha V, Rezacova M; Radiation Measurements, 2010 Oct; 45(9):1020-1023

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